I received a really positive response to last weeks post on Books for Teaching Gratitude, so I thought I'd share a little more on the subject!
None of us want to raise entitled, ungrateful children. No one is aiming for that as a goal! But as I've mentioned before, the longer I work as a therapist the more certain I am that gratitude is a deeply important skill that must be taught. It isn't something that always comes naturally for little ones. Just like any other important skill, it is up to us as adults to teach our kids about living a grateful life.
I don't know about you, but any sort of teaching or activity that I'm going to actually do with Lily has to be SIMPLE. It has to be realistic and fit naturally into our daily routines, and I find this to be the case for most parents.
Here are five extremely simple suggestions for cultivating a spirit of daily gratitude in children. These are appropriate for a variety of ages and cost zero dollars:)
- Model gratitude and contentment for your children. If you want them to be grateful for their life and the people in it, show them what that looks like with your own attitudes and words. If you want them to grow up to be people who choose gratitude even when things aren't going perfectly, model words and actions that reflect that.
- Read thoughtful books about gratitude and talk about them. Point out the way the characters behave and speak and ask your children questions. Check out my previous post on my favorite books for teaching gratitude here!
- Take a walk and help your kids point out things that make them happy. For older children, try talking with them about the good parts of their school day before immediately asking about grades and homework in the afternoons.
- Choose several categories (examples-family, friends, places, toys). Teach your children to make creations that represent who/what they're grateful for in each category using crayons, play-doh, blocks, or other supplies. Don't spend any money, just use what you have around the house! Once you've taught your children the meaning of this activity, they can do it independently. This is the sort of thing kids love to do in the playroom at my office.
- Tell your children often how grateful you are that you get to be their mom/dad/grandparent/aunt/friend. Don't just tell them you're proud of them when they do a good job at something. Don't just tell them you're pleased with them when they perform well, behave well, or make a good grade. Tell them that you're grateful for them often and for no reason at all. I find that this is a truly meaningful way to teach children about gratitude.
Our friends at Charlotte sy Dimby, designer of truly exquisite smocked children's dresses based out of Paris, shared an article on Teaching Our Children the Power of Gratitude. They were so kind to include my collection of books about gratitude and I think you'll enjoy their lovely and encouraging words. Click here for their article.
November is when we tend to talk about being thankful the most. But a true life of gratitude happens slowly, day by day. I hope this post leaves you with some easy and practical ideas for teaching gratitude in your own home:)